The idea for me to spend the weekend in Melbourne was born a few months ago when I was chatting online with my friend Gillian. She told me that she and her husband were going to see “USS Pinafore”, a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore” with a Star Trek theme. Gillian and I have always loved Star Trek; the original series and Next Generation anyway. We both have mixed feelings about Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise. I said the show sounded interesting and that I wouldn’t mind seeing it myself. Gillian said she could get me a ticket if I would like to come over so I did.
It might sound odd to people who have never watched Star Trek but actually Star Trek Next Generation featured G&S on a couple of occasions. In season 5, episode 5, “Disaster” Geordi LaForge, played by Le Var Burton was coaxed by Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) into singing a bit from “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from “The Pirates of Penzance”. However the most well known scene is the one from the film “Insurrection” where Captain Picard, Worf and Data sing “A British Tar” from “HMS Pinafore”.
Later I did a bit of googling to see if I could find out if the show had been produced anywhere else and found that there have been a few versions, both in the USA and the UK. I don’t know if it’s been done in Australia before.
I know a lot more about science fiction television shows than I know about Gilbert and Sullivan. I remember being taught “When I Was A Lad” at school and still remembered most of it and I’ve seen a production of “Pirates of Penzance” but that’s about it. However once I’d re-acquainted myself with the story I was ready to see the show.
The Director of this production had decided that rather than just pure Star Trek the show would make references to other popular SF films and television shows such as Star Wars and Doctor Who. We were “welcomed” by a Dalek voice informing us that we should turn off our mobile phones and that photography was forbidden. If we disobeyed we would be exterminated. We were then instructed to enjoy the show.
I thought the costumes were well done. The Captain and crew of course had the familiar Starfleet uniforms. The character of Josephine, the Captain’s daughter looked suspiciously like Princess Leia from Star Wars and the chorus line featured a blue alien, (Andorian?), a cat person, a Weeping Angel (Doctor Who) and a purple haired woman who looked like Leela from “Futurama”.That amused me because, for those that don’t know, “Futurama” is a cartoon show.
There were references in songs and dialogue to sonic screwdrivers,Tribbles and Jabba the Hutt to mention a few. The program helpfully provided a glossary for those who were more familiar with 19th century musical comedy than science fiction.
Although it might all sound very silly the cast had some very good singers amongst them and the orchestra was excellent I thought. I did have one or two little quibbles with the show, mainly that I found it hard to accept a Vulcan as a star-crossed lover. It was hard for me to accept the idea of a Vulcan acting that way. I didn’t really buy the idea of a Vulcan baby and a Human baby being mixed up either unless Little Buttercup was drinking on the job. However there have been sillier things in soap operas on television so I didn’t spend too much time worrying about it. I loved the show and I’d happily watch it again if they decide to bring out a DVD of it.
I’ve included links to YouTube clips from some of the other productions because as I didn’t wish to be exterminated I don’t have any pictures or recordings from this one.